Masked conservationists track down and document historic Hong Kong buildings

A group of masked explorers in Hong Kong have an important mission: to document the city’s historical buildings.

It can be a colonial political prison, an empty movie studio, or even a former World War ll air raid tunnel.

“I love to explore and track down these kinds of historical buildings because you can taste the history inside them, and it’s almost like doing detective work because I go through the building and find out what’s the story behind it, what’s the history, who lived in these buildings, what were they used for,” said an explorer identified only as Echo-Delta.

Hong Hong was under British rule from 1841 to 1997. It is home to impressive colonial-era architecture.

In recent decades, some of these structures have been demolished to make room for new developments.

The conservationists are an eight-person team called HK URBEX.

They research the sites extensively before visiting in person. Then, they document the sites with photos and videos. Everything is posted on their social media page.

The team said it’s a service to the public, not for personal credit.

“Everything that we’re doing has somewhat of a contribution to the public because we share these images not for ourselves because none of us take any personal credit for it we just enjoy doing it and we enjoy sharing these places and sharing these stories so many people can learn more about these places that are otherwise inaccessible to most people,” said Echo-Delta, who is also one of the co-founders of HK URBEX.

So far the group has recorded 50 sites in Hong Kong.

They are remaining anonymous because their activities could involve illegal trespassing.

“I just fear that in maybe 20 years’ time, there won’t be a lot of unique Hong Kong heritage or architecture that really shows that we are Hong Kong, because there’s no other place like us. Even compared to China for example, we have our own cultural merit. And the government of course should be more active in preserving these places because in a way, it’s also preserving our Hong Kong identity,” said Echo-Delta.

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